By Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life Legislative Director,
On Tuesday, Federal Judge Thomas Marten ordered an immediate state payment of approximately $80,000 to Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri for Title X family planning services.
In a statement to Kansans for Life the Kansas Attorney General’s Office said, “The state will comply with the Judge’s order but will continue its appeal to the Tenth Circuit United States Court of Appeals.”
It’s mind-boggling that Judge Marten continues to falsely maintain that this is a free speech case and that Planned Parenthood was denied participation in the Title X program as punishment for its abortion involvement. But Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri is not receiving a Title X contract for the same reason the Dodge City Family Planning Clinic does not.
The 2011-2012 state budget directs that family planning services financed in any way under Title X federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with non-public hospitals or health centers, that are Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) providing comprehensive health care. Neither Dodge City Family Planning Clinic nor Planned Parenthood’s outlets in Hays and Wichita are FQHCs.
Judge Marten ignores both the fundamental contractual issue and the state’s rock-solid objections.
1) There is no federal right to apply for, or receive, Title X funds from the state; thus Planned Parenthood has not been denied any “right” that Marten should rectify. Only the federal government must accept applications for Title X grants, thus Planned Parenthood can only claim the right is to apply directly to HHS for a grant, as other Planned Parenthood businesses have done in some states.
2) The judge ignores the Attorney General’s arguments that the state is harmed when it is forced to make double payments, including unrecoverable money to failing private businesses. “The court finds no injury to the defendants [the Kansas Department of Health and Environment] in maintaining the prior payment schedule,” wrote Marten. But the state health department has already contracted with public clinics in Wichita and Hays, and is now being ordered to prepay money to Planned Parenthood businesses which was already operating in the red for services that cannot be guaranteed.
3) There are no facts to back up Planned Parenthood assertions that women would not get satisfactory family planning without them. Marten ruled, “the residents of Hays and Wichita will be best assured of continued family planning services by maintaining the status quo”…with “an organization which has consistently provided satisfactory family planning services,” … and otherwise would “face higher costs, longer wait or travel times for appointments and have less access to services.”
The state’s attorneys argue that these claims are ungrounded, self-serving, and infer–without any shred of evidence– that the state health department has failed to award adequate contracts.